Ace in the Hole

Malaika eyed the pile of cards. In the sprit of team-building and learning about one another, Hex had proposed a group activity - Poker. In truth, she'd never played any card games beyond Cat's Paw, but Hex assured her and the rest of the team members that it would be easy to pick up. Begrudgingly, she had agreed to participate, seating herself across from Hex, alongside Sadaj and Crrch, with Nasir and Yumi flanking Hex. This way, she could stare down her sunglass'd team member without hurting her neck. "So, what are the rules?"

"Well, it's strip poker," Hex began, before Malaika interrupted him.


"Strip poker."

"It means you remove an article of clothing when you lose a bet," Sadaj explained as his hand stroked his mask. He felt confident - his secrets and tactics would aid him well in poker. Strip poker only sweetened the deal. He was glad the mask hid his eyes as they roved across the table and its occupants, his lips splitting into an eager smirk. "I'm sure you'll learn the rules along the way."

"Don't worry about it Malaika!" Crrch bounced a little on his front legs, his way of nodding. Though he had nothing to strip, he was invited prior to the rules, and felt it would be rude to leave now. The nervousness of some of the crew - Malaika and Nasir particularly - made him worried enough to stay regardless.

Yumi remained silent as usual, eyeing the pile of cards. Her cheating methods were obvious, she probably wouldn't even be able to get out a single eye-creature before someone at the table smooshed it. She sulked.

Nasir, on the other hand, approached the game with an eyebrow raised and a lopsided grin. He'd done a few games of poker in his time, but you rarely had time to strip in field hospitals. "Topaz is right, you'll pick up the rules."

Hex simply lifted the desk of cards, shuffling them in an exotic manner Malaika'd never seen. "I hope we're all ready then. We'll help you with the rules if you ask, Malaika." Somehow, his grin didn't exactly reassure the female templar, who suddenly wished she'd worn more than just her robe, shirt and pants to the table. Malaika lifted her head.

After Hex dealt the cards, Malaika quickly lowered her head. She had no idea what she was doing. These cards were entirely different from the ones at home - who the hell put SPADES in here? Still, she looked them over - two were the same. They were fours, apparently. She guessed that was good enough, after the short explanation from ever-helpful Crrch. She beamed with confidence. Yumi bet, Crrch 'shook' his head, Mala put in…Sadaj paused. Mala watched him before he slowly lowered his hand from his mask and gestured that he was in, too…

By the end of the first round, Yumi had taken off her jacket, Mala was beaming victorious and Crrch was giving the fiery templar a pat on the back. Sadaj's plan was working brilliantly. He just needed to build Mala's confidence up, just like stoking a flame…she'd burn herself out without any help from him. However, there was a factor he couldn't control - Hex. It was hard to read him because of the sunglasses, but he wouldn't admit it. Things had to go as he wanted.

A few more rounds passed. Nasir lost his shirt, surprising everyone non-martian with his physique. Malaika confidently reminded them about Mars and genetic modification and how well-trained even medics were until Hex reminded her she was in the middle of a game. Hex lost his shoes, and Sadaj lost his cape, which fluttered as he removed it. Crrch had lost once as well, but lacking any real clothes, he opted to remove one of his cannons. It dropped with a thud to the floor beside him.

"This game was easier than you let on!" Mala chuckled as Sadaj merely rubbed his mask. Hex adjusted his glasses. She missed the actions, putting them under signs of nervousness, giggling to herself as the next hand was dealt. Three of a kind! She couldn't believe her luck. She couldn't wait to put herself down for a bet, practically bouncing in her chair.

The tactician made his move, smoothly gesturing to bet as well. As he had figured, Nasir folded. Hex put in as well. None of them called to switch cards.

"Three of a kind!" Mala declared, throwing her cards down. "Hah! Take that!"

"Four." With a flourish, Sadaj flipped his cards. Mala stared in disbelief. Beneath his mask, Sadaj's fox-like grin spread into a toothy smile. "Surprised?"

Hex sighed. This was the second loss. Begrudgingly, he removed his socks as Malaika glowered. She took her time taking off her robe, barely shuffling it off of her shoulders to let it settle behind her.

"All the way off," Sadaj reminded her, that smile practically in his voice. Angrily, she tossed the offending garment away into the corner of the room. The tactician folded his hands. Just as planned.

It only took one more round, Nasir losing his shoes (why didn't he take those off first?) before Malaika lost again. Just as she was getting comfortable with her robes missing. She puffed out a cheek. Rules were rules. Slowly, she tugged off the stretchy fabric, revealing the last bastion of clothing besides her pants - a band of fabric intended to hold back her breasts no matter what happened, battle or exercise or, god forbid, strip poker. "Happy now?" she grumbled as all eyes at the table fell on her. Sadaj gave the faintest of nods.

"Very. Quite a nice pair."

"I had three of a kind!" she insisted, grumbling.

"I wasn't referring to your hand."

The joke flew over her head, but she did her best to hide her chest. More rounds passed - Hex took off his tie, much to the glares of the table patrons. Yumi's shoes came off. Crrch removed another cannon. Sadaj took off his shirt while, somehow, keeping his mask on. In a vote of confidence, Mala put down her bet - and lost. A rock and a hard place. Her bra, or her pants. She glared at her ineffective four of a kind. It was Hex smirking now. "Luck of the draw."

There was only one choice: Her bra. So Mala flopped out her tits and that was Yumi's signal to do the same and then there were dicks all over the place and long story short it turns out that getting fist-fucked by a five-ton metal spider really hurts.

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